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Archive for May, 2007

When I graduated, I was on top of the world. I felt like I could do anything, be anyone and go anywhere. I dreamt of employers fighting over me, my references raving about me and my resume taking me straight to the top.

Then I woke up.

New grads often enter the workforce with this same sense of pride – you’re feelin’ good because you graduated; you came out with a sweet GPA and you scored the opportunity to work for your dream company. All the hard work is done, right?

Wrong.

Too many new graduates are entering the workforce with an unflattering sense of entitlement, says Margot Lester, author of "The Real Life Guide to Starting Your Career" and "Be a Better Writer: A Power Tool for Young Writers." New grads come in expecting jobs but not wanting to do the menial tasks and in general, thinking they’re too good for this, she adds.

"An attitude of entitlement is a deal-breaker for almost any employer," Lester says. "You’ve got to lose it."

The problem is, most grads aren’t even aware they have an attitude! Lester suggests this quick check:

  • Do you feel wronged when you don’t get something you want – or just disappointed?
  • Have you generally gotten almost everything you’ve really wanted or strived for?
  • Do you feel you deserve to get what you want and have trouble understanding why you don’t get it?

Did you say yes to any of these? Then you’ve probably got an attitude of entitlement.

Lester offers these simple tips on how to ditch your bad attitude and get to work like everyone else:

  • Shift your focus – begin to look at things with an attitude of gratitude.
  • Instead of expecting to win everytime, try to be appreciative of the experience.
  • Thank people for their time.
  • Look for lessons to be learned from NOT succeeding.
  • Start realizing that there are a ton of talented people in the world and if one of them gets the job you wanted, maybe you were wanting the wrong job, or maybe they had a different set of skills that was a better fit.

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As I researched topics to write about this week, my mind (and fingers) strayed and suddenly I found myself surfing Facebook – oops – hate it when that happens. Surprisingly enough, it was here that I found my new topic : social networking. Again.

Hopefully, my previous rants about networking haven’t fallen on deaf ears. If so, listen up because I’ve got more to say. Online networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are actually useful tools for job-hunters – if used the right way.

Job-seeking college students are deleting their MySpace and Facebook accounts because they fear employers look at them when making hiring decisions, says Elaine Young, college professor at Champlian College in Burlington, VT. While employers do look at Facebook and MySpace, if an employer comes upon your profile only to see that it’s locked or set to private, it might raise some red flags.

Rather than delete your account completely, simply clean it up, Young says.

"Learn how to manage your social network accounts to showcase your strengths, avoid pitfalls and maximize your professional visibility."

Bob Fulkerth, chair of Information Technology Management and Operations at Golden Gate University, which has various locations in California, offers these tips for using social networking sites:

  • Even if you’re using a purely social space, remember that others see – and read – you. Don’t put anything online that you don’t want anyone to read. What happens in Vegas might stay there; but not online. You might list your experience in project management on a business-centered site, but if a recruiter discovers that you ‘love to party’ on another site, you won’t get the call.
  • Become familiar with employment-centric sites. In addition to registering, learn how the site works and what benefits it offers. LinkedIn, for example, is popular with recruiters because of the referrals/comments feature about people in others’ networks.
  • Monkey see, monkey do. Check out how other people describe themselves and their business skills online.
  • Don’t count on an interview. Online tools are just that: tools. Don’t rely on online networking to get an interview.
  • Say nice things. Having positive commentary about you or your work both in person and online equates to a personal referral, and referrals still comprise the most valuable tool in successful job hunting.

Now, I’d like to say a goodbye to all of you, my faithful readers. I’ve decided to follow my own advice, and take some time off for myself. Who knows when (or if) I’ll be back, but until then, I’d like to introduce you to Rachel, the new go-to girl for CBCampus. I know she’ll continue to give you great advice and I hope you’re as good to her as you were to me.

Until then, look for me on Facebook…

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If you’ve followed the straight and narrow, chances are you’ve been in school for 16 years in a row. How’s that for depressing?

As we speak, you’re cramming for finals, pumping out papers, preparing presentations AND (for some) getting ready to graduate. Couple that with my earlier statistic, and you’ve got yourself a classic case of burnout.  It might be time for a break.

Taking time off after college isn’t uncommon – the question is, is it a good idea?

There are many reasons for taking time off. Aside from the aforementioned burnout, you may want to take some time to find where your passions truly lie. Maybe you need time to re-focus on your career goals and return to your job search with enthusiasm. Or, it might be time to pursue experiences that might be impractical once you enter the real world – like that backpacking trip to Europe.

How would your European escapade affect your resume? An interesting experience won’t necessarily help get you a job but it will show that you’re not afraid to break away from the pack.

Real example: one of my good friends went to work at a resort in Saipan after graduation to see the world, learn Japanese and make some money. She returned to the states in March and recently accepted a job offer from an employer who told her they appreciated her soul-searching and wished more people would do the same.

Let’s weigh some of the pros and cons of taking time off after college.

Pros. You could…

  • Teach English overseas
  • Gain experience before deciding what you want to do
  • Pay off some debt
  • Show independence to an employer
  • Work an internship or take classes to gain more experience for the "real world."
  • Travel through Europe and work odd jobs
  • Pursue the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps
  • Build character

Cons. You could also…

  • Fall behind your friends
  • Miss out on job opportunties
  • Fall into more debt
  • Lose knowledge and learning abilities
  • Raise a red flag to employers
  • Have trouble adjusting to a "real" schedule
  • Lose motivation to find a job at all
  • Return with changed values and views on working

Ultimately, you should always do what will benefit you personally, not what might look best on your resume and job applications.

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At this point in your college career, the concept of having a good resume has been beaten into your brain (if it hasn’t, your beating starts now). You know you have to proofread, edit, write, re-write, then re-write some more and creatively make your resume stand out from the rest.

You should know, there is such a thing as too creative. There is such a thing as too much information. There is also such a thing as committing resume sin, which will result in your banishment from the working world –  forever. (OK, maybe that is a little extreme, but you get the point).

Hiring managers and human resources professionals nationwide shared the most unusual resume blunders they came across in a recent CareerBuilder.com survey.

Here are 12 resume blunders (committed by real candidates) you should never repeat if you ever hope to get a job:

  1. Including that you spend summers on your family’s yacht in Grand Cayman.
  2. Attaching a letter from your mother.
  3. Using pale blue paper with teddy bears around the border.
  4. Explaining a gap in employment by saying it was because you were getting over the death of your cat for three months.
  5. Specifying your limited availability because Friday, Saturday and Sunday are "drinking time."
  6. Including a picture of yourself in a cheerleading uniform.
  7. Drawing a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and saying it is the hiring manager’s gift.
  8. Including sitting on the levee at night watching alligators as one of your hobbies.
  9. Including the fact that your sister once won a strawberry eating contest.
  10. Explaining that you work well nude.
  11. Explaining an arrest by stating, "We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig."
  12. Including family medical  history.

Those might sound crazy – but they’re true.

"Employers do appreciate creativity in job applicants because rooting through piles of resumes often times can be a monotonous task," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.com. "However, the key is to balance that creativity with professionalism. You want to stand out as someone unique but also as someone with applicable experience who can add value to the company."

Haefner offers these tips to help you get started on your road to resume success:

Your personal life is just that – personal. Don’t include personal information such as where you spend your summer vacations. Instead, include information on activities that are business-related such as memberships in professional organizations and community service involvement.

Simple. Bold. Professional. Keep those three ideas in mind when formatting your resume. Instead of flashy formatting and teddy bear borders, create a clean and polished document on resume paper with consistent formatting for headings and bullet points. To gain a hiring manager’s attention, use strong action words like "achieved" and "managed" instead of unconventional fonts or colored text.

One size does not fit all. If you’re applying for a sales position, it wouldn’t make much sense to focus on your experience in an unrelated field like education or information technology.  Not only should you play up achievements and experience specific to each individual job to which you are applying but also be sure to provide actual results. For example, instead of saying you have sales experience, include that you were responsible for a 10 percent growth in overall sales.

Two sets of eyes are better than one. After you’ve proofread your resume a few times, ask someone else to review it. A second pair of eyes may be able to catch mistakes you missed and could provide a fresh perspective on how to improve your resume.

For help with your resume, go to cbResume.com. You can upload your resume and receive instant feedback on how to improve your chances of getting hired.

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